Today is the first full day of spring, and that seems like a good reason to talk about the effects spring allergies can have on mental health. Of course allergies to spring pollen can leave a person feeling tired and with a runny nose, and other fun allergy symptoms. Feeling generally cruddy is likely to not help anyone’s overall mood.
Research has shown that there is a very real correlation between spring allergies and suicide rates. Why is this? The current thinking is that allergies trigger strong immune responses and inflammation. Inflammation is one likely cause of depression. People who already have depression may find that spring allergies cause the depression to get worse and this is likely due to an increase in inflammation throughout the body and brain. But it’s not just depressions that is affected. Anxiety increases in the spring, as well. In addition to an increase in depression, spring allergies also have some effect on suicide rates. One study which found a link between spring tree pollen and increased depression, and increased suicide rates, looked at 25 consecutive years and included almost 3 million people.
Even people who don’t have a mood disorder (such as depression or anxiety) are shown to have a higher risk of suicide during the spring allergy season. This risk is further elevated in people who do have a mood disorder. If someone you care about is suffering from allergies this spring, keep an eye on their mood. Even though it’s small, there is a real increased risk of suicide during this season. This is true of teens, too, so a “moody” teen may in fact be struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts during this coming allergy season.
If you are concerned that you might have a mood disorder that is being worsened by allergies, I invite you to call me. I do my best to see people quickly and research shows that simply making the appointment often offers significant relief in itself. Call or text me at (816) 226-4678. You may also schedule an appointment through my online client portal as well as send me secure, HIPAA-compliant messages.